When most people think of a dog, they conjure up an image of a Labrador retriever in their minds. Indeed; the Labrador – or Lab for short – is one of the most popular breeds as shown by AKC rankings. This sporting dog breed is so versatile that it can easily perform various roles: from a hunter’s companion to a friendly family dog, from a therapy pet to an athlete competing in shows; there is very little a Labrador won’t be able to do. So let us go ahead and study some cool Labrador retriever facts, its temperament and other details that potential dog owners may be looking for.
Cool facts about the Labrador Retriever
- The AKC ranked the Labrador Retriever as the number one dog as far as breed popularity is concerned. In 2002, it registered nearly 154,616 labs. This number nearly 98,000 more than Golden retrievers which is the second most popular breed in the US. The Labrador retriever’s popularity shows no signs of flagging.
- So how did the Lab get its name? Many people believe it may have originated in Labrador province of Canada. However, the word Labrador is Spanish for ‘working farm dog’. Some historians also believe that the Labrador Retriever may have come from the French province of Newfoundland. After all; the Newfoundland dogs are very similar in appearance to the Lab. Then there is another line of thought that the Labrador Retriever might have had the Great Pyrenees as an ancestor. In short: the breed’s history is quite murky.
- The Lab even took over the White House! In 1997, President Bill Clinton was gifted a chocolate Labrador puppy named Buddy. Buddy was the first Lab to live in the White House.
- The breed standards for the Labrador Retriever are as follows – height at withers is about 21-24 inches and weight between 65 to 80 lbs for dogs and 55 to 70 lbs for bitches.
- Coat colors – The coat is a distinctive feature of the Lab. It should be short, dense and straight and give a fairly hard feeling to the hand. Labrador Retriever coat colors come in three hues: yellow, black and chocolate. In yellow labs, the color may range from fox red to light cream. Chocolates can range from light to dark chocolate.
Labrador Retriever vs. Golden Retriever
Many people are faced with the choice between Golden retriever vs. Labrador retriever. Naturally, you may want to meet both dogs and observe them in their homes or litters. Both breeds are famous for their loving personalities. Labradors tend to be rather trusting and many won’t even bark at intruders. They are sweet dogs though fans of Golden retrievers believe them to be a lot more loving than Labs. Both breeds are even tempered and mild mannered. Naturally, many things also depend on how you train your dog. Some Golden retrievers are biters though; again, it depends on early socialization and obedience training. Shedding wise; both breeds shed a lot all year round. With the Golden though, you will find longer hairs on your belongings. You can also decide between the two breeds based on other factors. For more details whether to buy/adopt a Golden retriever or a Labrador retriever, check out this guide. In case you want a breed that has the best qualities of both Labs and Goldens, then go for the beautiful Goldador.
Where to find a Labrador Retriever
A good breeder can be your source of first rate Lab puppy or an older, well trained dog who has retired from the show ring. It is up to you to meet several breeders in order to sift out the ones that are genuinely concerned about the breed’s well being. Good breeders will be around to help you answer all your questions during your pet’s adolescence years – a trying time for most new dog owners. Also, if for some reason you are unable to keep your Lab, a reputed breeder would be willing to take him back. You can also contact the Labrador Retriever Club to find rescues near you. Expect to pay anywhere between $800 to $1000 for a Labrador puppy of pure bloodline.
The Lab is the most versatile and popular member of the canine world. He is always ready for a game of fetch and will be able to learn anything you teach him. He is often “more dog” than some people can handle; it takes a special kind of personality to live with a Labrador retriever. Labs do best with active, energetic owners and they are great with children. They also get along with other family pets (even cats!) but you must train and socialize them early on. Labs are definitely easy to train and willing to please. Some people often complain that Labs are too friendly. They may bark at strangers at the door but most are happy to let intruders in and some might even lead them to your valuables! This is a laidback and easygoing breed that will go out of its way to please the people it loves.
When you look at the breed’s history, it is easy to see why they have become the popular dogs they are. Besides a roof over their heads and regular meals, labs need plenty of exercise, love and attention from their owners. Labs also need early, consistent training and grasp things very quickly. Since 200 years, this breed has been made to work on farms, in hunts and even in the water. That is why they enjoy activity with their loved ones and it does not matter if it is work or play. A Lab can play fetch for hours. He will spend hours perfecting his obedience commands like come, go, fetch, sit etc. He will love to go on walks, hikes and picnics with his family. You can also train him in agility, teach him to run alongside your bike, swim with you or play fly-ball and other dog sports. Expect to play, train and/or walk your dog at least 3 times a day for at least 15-30 minutes at a time. This is a breed that needs mental and physical stimulation as well.
Training your Lab
An essential part of training any dog is housetraining. Start this as soon as your dog comes home. Young puppies need to be shown where it is okay to void. That is where crate training comes in handy. A dog will never soil his sleeping quarters. So train your lab to sleep in a crate from the beginning. Make sure the crate is of the right size for your puppy. Too large and he might still use it to pee at one end of it. So section off the crate and also make your pet pee outdoors before settling in for the night. Young pups need to pee very often and that could result in accidents. You could get your pet toilet pads or place newspapers in the yard to void upon. Doggy diapers are also convenient during housetraining. Apart from housetraining, get your lab to socialize with other dogs and people. You can also work with a trainer to teach your pet basic commands. If needed, enroll your pet in a puppy school or obedience classes near you. Be consistent, patient and gentle during training. Housetraining can take anywhere between 1-6 months depending on how much time you are willing to invest in it.
Besides making your Labrador retriever look good, grooming is a great way to develop a relationship of trust and love with your pet. Routine grooming also helps you catch issues before they escalate such as ear infections, tumors, skin diseases and parasites. Good grooming also serves a psychological function. Well groomed labs are amenable with vets, dog handlers and trainers and good grooming will help your Lab not only look good but also feel good.
It is always a good idea to know what health issues are common in each breed so you can take steps to avoid them or catch them in their early stages. Labrador retriever breed is susceptible to orthopedic problems, skin issues and eye problems. Talk to your breeder about your pet’s propensity towards these issues. Good breeders will naturally take the steps to prevent these genetic problems. Additionally, good diet, regular exercise and plenty of attention and love can keep your Lab healthy for years to come. The average lifespan of a Labrador retriever is between 10-13 years.